Olmert: We're Close to Stopping Iran's Nuclear Program

Prime Minister meets U.S. President in Washington; Bush to Olmert: 'Existential' Iran threat must be taken seriously.

After his meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the end of Iran's controversial nuclear program was approaching.

"With every day that passes, we are getting closer to stopping Iran's nuclear program," he said, adding that substantial steps were being taken to handle the Iranian threat in "a more effective manner."

Olmert added that, as a result of the hour-long meeting with Bush, there were fewer question marks between the two allies concerning the means, the time constraints, and the level of American determination in dealing with the Iranian nuclear program.

"Naturally the Iranian issue was central to our talks, and our shared point of departure is the need to deal with Iran before it manages to acquire non-conventional capabilities," Olmert told reporters.

He said the two leaders also discussed the talks with the Palestinians and Lebanon, and the U.S. president asked to be briefed on developments with Syria. "Every day that goes by we are making significant steps in dealing with this problem [Iran]. We, with the world under American leadership, are dealing with it in an effort to reach the goal which is to prevent Iran from acquiring [nuclear] arms," Olmert said.

"I do not think it is appropriate for Iran to know what we are doing," Olmert said, and described the cooperation with the United States on countering Iran's nuclear program.

Asked about Barack Obama's speech to the AIPAC conference vowing that Jerusalem will forever be Israel's undivided capital, Olmert said he did not hear the speech himself, but that "from what I heard they had impressive performances and I am very impressed by these declarations. I will speak with all of them by phone."

Bush to PM: 'Existential' Iran threat must be taken seriouslyBush told Olmert on Wednesday that Iran was an "existential threat to peace" and said the world must take that threat seriously.

"It is very important for the world to take the Iranian threat seriously, which the United States does," Bush said as he began White House talks with Olmert, visiting amid a corruption scandal at home that could drive him from office.

The Washington talks came a day after Olmert issued his toughest warning yet to Tehran, saying Iran's nuclear program must be stopped by "all possible means."

Bush assured Olmert, facing calls for his resignation over a corruption scandal that could disrupt the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, of the U.S. commitment to Israel.

Olmert, at Bush's side in the Oval Office, agreed that Iran poses "the main threat to all of us."

The prime minister also told the U.S. president that Israel appreciates the comments he made upon his visit to Israel last month, when he participated in celebrations of the country's 60th anniversary. Olmert told his host that Israel esteems his commitment to its security, and friendship toward it.

Bush also said the two would discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts launched last November at an international conference in Annapolis, Maryland.